School & District Management

Web Site Seeks Aid for Katrina Victims

January 17, 2006 1 min read

Most educators likely don’t even know Lacombe, La., exists—much less that some children at the town’s 350-student Chahta-Ima Elementary School, in the St. Tammany Parish district, continue to need school supplies and clothing months after families there lost everything to Hurricane Katrina.

To help people in rural communities help other rural families in such areas hit hard by the Gulf Coast hurricane in August, a national advocacy group started a Web site—ruraltorural.org—late last year.

Schools listed on the site, established by the Arlington, Va.-based Rural School and Community Trust, need paper and pencils, classroom furniture, and clothing for families who lost belongings, said Page McCullough, a consultant to the trust who helped create the site.

Craig J. Howat wants people to know that Luling, La., and most students’ homes in the town outside New Orleans made it through Hurricane Katrina just fine—but not the school’s beloved science lab.

The lab, located in a portable classroom outside Luling Elementary School, was home to dozens of snakes, alligators, frogs, and other animals that students observed for science lessons.

Storm winds tore the roof off the lab, allowing heavy rains to ruin most of its contents. Somehow, all the animals survived and have been moved, said Mr. Howat, the technology teacher who runs the lab at the 720-student school in St. Charles Parish.

The lab also had a 30-foot-wide butterfly dome outdoors that housed 50 butterflies. The dome was destroyed, and the butterflies perished during the hurricane.

Now, Mr. Howat is asking students to dream big as they plan to build a new “living lab.” Already, donations are helping bring in an architecture professor from New York City next month to assist in planning for a new lab. Costs have not been set.

“I’m making the students work for every bit of it,” Mr. Howat said of the fund raising.

Local high school students have made a videotape about the plans for a new lab, and Mr. Howat’s students are sending out DVD copies of the video, asking for donations.

For information, e-mail Mr. Howat at chowat@stcharles.k12.la.us.

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